Paul H. Williams, Contributor
On Saturday, July 14, in an article called 'Negril man paints with his head', The Gleaner told the story of how 34-year-old Astro Saulter, who is stricken with cerebral palsy, uses his head to paint digital pictures.
"The process itself is being constructed by a digital format. It would be considered illustrative and graphic in its presentation. The designs are well thought out and mainly on a white background. The colours are bold and deliberate. Some of his works would, in their appearance, look quite simple and effortless, easy to absorb and quite charming," Rozi Chung, operator of Studio 174, downtown Kingston, said in describing Astro's work.
Now, Astro launches his first solo art exhibition, called 'Astro, The Morning Star' on Saturday, November 17 in Studio 174, at 174 Harbour Street, downtown Kingston from 4-9 p.m.
This exhibition will be the first-ever event of The Astro Project, and will introduce 35 original pieces by Astro for sale, and comes at a time when "2012 marks the anniversary of the United Nations-sanctioned 20th anniversary of the Day of People with Disabilities, an annual day to promote understanding and support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities the world over".
"A primary goal of this project, in addition to introducing Astro to the art world, is to positively impact the reality of the difficulties faced by disabled people (in) leading a full life in Jamaica," Storm Saulter, local film-maker and Astro's brother, said, "The Astro Project, its organisational partner, the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, and its founders, advisers and sponsors wish to raise awareness of the creative needs of persons with developmental delays and physical disabilities, and of their requirements for access to tools and facilities, so as to produce positive changes in their lives."
Chung, in explaining her involvement with the project, concurred with Storm. "Astro is also using this medium to communicate to us his thoughts, and his perception of the world. Without art, it would have been otherwise very difficult to know and to see what is going on in his mind. He has given hope to many like himself who live with this challenge and also offer inspiration to those who might not have seen art as a vehicle to express themselves when they feel powerless and without hope," she said.
"The inner-city youths can identify with some of these challenges, and it will further encourage them when they can visually see the support that Astro will receive for his hard work and determination. Art, fundamentally, is a great communicator, and opens and tears down barriers where logic could not conceive. It allows the unseen to be seen."
The launch will also include the screening of Astro, The Morning Star, Astro Saulter's biographical film, produced by Nile and Storm Saulter of New Caribbean Cinema. There will be a special screening of this film, in partnership with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, at the Disability Friendly Awards Gala on Monday, November 19, at 7 p.m. at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel, where Astro's entire collection from Studio 174 will be on display. One of the prints will be featured in a silent auction at the event. Tickets are available at 922-8469.
The Astro Project is partly supported by Studio 174, Blackwell Rum, Strawberry Hill, National Outdoor Advertising, Art and Photo Impressions, and the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities. The Studio 174 exhibition runs until January 2013.
"I am expecting a good turn out and persons to support Astro. The pieces on sale are priced very reasonably," Chung said.